There are two types of Christmas revelers in the world: those who put Baby Jesus in the crib as soon as the manger scene goes up in the family room, and those who keep Baby Jesus tucked away and put Him in on Christmas morning. There is fierce debate between the two realms.
I put a small Nativity up on my desk at work (yes, I work someplace where this will not get me fired. In fact, where I work, it's encouraged.) A co-worker chided me for having Baby Jesus in the scene already. I pointed out that, in this scene, Jesus was glued in - moot point.
Even if He wasn't glued in, I'd still have Him there. I'm one of those who puts Baby Jesus in the manger when the scene goes up. There are a couple of reasons for this.
First, I collect Nativity sets, and I would spend all Christmas morning trying to match up which Baby goes in which scene. Second, I am trying to prevent a tragedy.
One of my nephews, a few years ago, attempted to have that "perfect" Christmas,…
*Warning: severe whining ahead!*
Monday came and went. Black Friday? Oh, yeah: we spent $600...on a
water pump for our crappy van. $600 that we had to borrow from my mom.
I'm not feeling Christmas.
I know: Christmas isn't about gifts and spending money and getting
and receiving stuff. But with the glossy catalogs piling up, the
coupons pouring into my email box, and the chatter about who wants what,
it's hard to get past all that to the Manger.
dreams (wild, unimaginable dreams), I'd have a Von Trapp Family
Christmas: we'd all be whittling, sewing, crafting and creating our way
to thoughtful family gifts. However, my kids are not gonna want
hand-hewn Xboxes or ear buds. Trust me on this. And let's be honest: I don't want a crocheted Kindle.
the Thanksgiving weekend, I was informed by one child that Dear Husband
and I were simply "mismanaging" our money and another child that said
child wanted our inp…
As an adoptive mother, I don't have any horror stories about pregnancy and labor. (That doesn't mean there isn't pain involved in adopting a child - it's just a different sort.) However, now that my kids are all older teens, I am experiencing labor pains: giving birth to adults.
My mom and I hardly ever fought....except for the summer right before I went away to college. We wrangled all the time. Looking back, I can see I was scared about heading off to college: that I'd get lost on campus, that I'd hate my roommate, that I'd be far too stupid to pass any college course. The fear came out as anger and downright bitchiness at my mom. I was yearning for total independence and totally freaked out of the idea of independence, all at the same time
Fast forward 30 years.
Curly-haired Daughter, now a high school senior, told me last night that she "just wanted to figure things out for herself" and didn't want my input on anything, "unle…
There are a lot of ways to pray through Advent, but one resource I particularly like is from Creighton University. These are online (great for work!), short, thoughtful and insightful prayers and reflections. For those of us who like to prepare for Christmas in a prayerful manner, this is a terrific resource. Check it out!
Certainly, enough ink has been spilled on the changes in the language of the New Roman Missal that even most non-Catholics and nominally religious folk have heard about it. Some of the stuff that has been written has enlightened, some entertained, and some, well....has been stupid.
If you're not aware, we Catholics are adjusting some of the language of the Mass. When the Mass was first translated into English from the Latin following Vatican II, some of the translations were sloppy. Now, we're adjusting. Honestly, the new language (while clearly going to take us a little while to get used to) is lovely and poetic and beautiful. Unless you're her:
But Monica Malpezzi thinks the new language is stilted and confusing and
will only create a barrier between people and God. "If we have to
scramble for understanding in what our prayer life is, I think that will
make it harder for us to feel that God is right there with us."
The day after Christmas, on the liturgical calendar, is the Feast of St. Stephen, who was martyred. The Church wants to remind us not to get too caught up in all the trimmings and warm-fuzziness of a baby in a manger, Midnight Mass, and carols. The day after we celebrate Jesus' birth, the Church reminds us that we have to be willing to die for the Faith (ain't being Catholic grand?)
One of my favorite Christmas songs is "St. Stephen's Day Murders." Elvis Costello did it with the Chieftains - you can listen to it here, but some of the lyrics are:
I knew of two sisters whose name it was Christmas,
And one was named Dawn of course, the other one was named Eve.
I wonder if they grew up hating the season,
The good will that lasts til the Feast of St. Stephen
For that is the time to eat, drink, and be merry,
Til the beer is all spilled and the whiskey has flowed.
And the whole family tree you neglected to bury,
Are feeding their faces until they explode.
This Thanksgiving let those of
us who have much and those who have little gather at the welcoming table
of the Lord. At this blessed feast, may rich and poor alike remember
that we are called to serve on another and to walk together in God's
gracious world. With thankful hearts we praise our God who like a loving
parent denies us no good thing.
For those interested in religion, economics, and a free and virtuous society, the Acton University experience every June is incomparable. Here is some great new information about how you can register and also take part in an online version: Last week, the Programs Department
launched registration for two exciting projects: the 2012 AU conference and AU
Online. For those of you who don’t know, AU Online is an internet-based
educational resource for exploring the intellectual foundations of freedom and
virtue. Attending an AU Online lecture gives participants the chance to watch a
live, online video presentation and interact with faculty and other attendees
from around the world. We’re currently accepting
registrations for the four-part pilot series that covers the foundational
lectures that you’d normally attend at any AU or FAVS. The Foundational Series
is scheduled to run twice a week, Dec. 6-15 at 4:00pm EST.
Wherein I "rip-off" another writer, whose prose seem more fitting than mine. Today, President Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation, which first made a day of national thanks and repentance (yes, repentance!) our holiday:
The year that is drawing toward its close has been
filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To
these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to
forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which
are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and
soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the everwatchful
providence of almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude
and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite
and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all
nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and
obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of
I live in a small town. Not an-everybody-knows-your-name small, but small enough that I know the pharmacist by her first name, I sing in the church choir with one of the loan officers at the local bank, my kids have all had the same 5th grade history teacher. Small.
Small so that, every year on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the local churches get together for an evening of mutual praise and worship. It's mostly music - those congregated sing a few hymns together, and each of the participating churches has their choir or vocal ensemble perform. One of the churches has a handbell choir that does a few hymns. The local ministers each offer a Scripture reading or prayer; it's lovely and ecumenical and a worthy endeavor. We hold it at our church since we have this lovely pipe organ that sounds wonderful with the choirs.
However, last night's service was marred for me. The two Lutheran churches in our area performed a piece together called "Faith Alone/Sola Fide&q…
Flower-Gathering Robert Frost
I LEFT you in the morning, And in the morning glow, You walked a way beside me To make me sad to go. Do you know me in the gloaming, Gaunt and dusty gray with roaming? Are you dumb because you know me not, Or dumb because you know?
All for me And not a question For the faded flowers gay That could take me from beside you For the ages of a day? They are yours, and be the measure Of their worth for you to treasure, The measure of the little while That I've been long away.
What are you thankful for this year? I am thankful that I am not related to the writer of the following Thanksgiving missive (and yes, as far as my sleuthing can tell, this is real, albeit a couple of years old...):
As you all know a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner does not make itself. I
need to ask each of you to help by bringing something to complete the
meal. I truly appreciate your offers to assist with the meal
Now, while I do have quite a sense of humor and joke around all the
time, I COULD NOT BE MORE SERIOUS when I am providing you with your
Thanksgiving instructions and orders. I am very particular, so please
perform your task EXACTLY as I have requested and read your portion very
carefully. If I ask you to bring your offering in a container that has a
lid, bring your offering in a container WITH A LID, NOT ALUMINUM FOIL!
If I ask you to bring a serving spoon for your dish, BRING A SERVING
SPOON, NOT A SOUP SPOON! And please do not forget…
I studied a form of martial arts for a number of years. As part of my studies, I took a class in ikebana, which most people think of as Japanese floral arranging. The connection between arranging flowers and martial arts may not be readily apparent, but they are deeply connected.
Ikebana relies on balance to make a pleasing arrangement: the elements must balance each other, the container must be balanced against the contents, and so forth. There must be tension and a dynamic element, but it is a still life, with flowers.
Ikebana is also an art form that relies on both instinct and rules. There are rules and forms that have to be learned, but there's also a point where the person creating has to trust his/her own instincts - rules be damned.
It also requires one to be very aware of one's own surroundings - what will work, what won't, and how to manage the materials you have to work with. You don't always like what materials you have, but you have to make them work.
Wherein I "rip-off" another writer. Today's fine choice (if I do say so myself) is G.K. Chesterton, from "Obstinate Orthodoxy". Now, I know it's kind of long, and the writing is a little "dusty", but read it. You will not believe how "current" Mr. Chesterton is!
…it is the sceptics who
are the sentimentalists. More than half the "revolt" and the talk of
being advanced and progressive is
simply a weak sort of snobbishness which takes the form of a worship of Youth. Some men of my generation
delight in declaring that they are of the Party of the Young and defending
every detail of the latest
fashions or freaks. If I do not do that, it is for the same reason that
I do not dye my hair or wear stays. But even when it is less despicable than that, the current phrase that
everything must be done for youth, that the rising generation is all
that matters, is in sober fact apiece of
pure sentimentalism. It is also, within reason, a per…
That describes my emotional and spiritual state right now.
I have had, by all accounts, a horrible couple of weeks. Let's just run down the list, shall we:
1. Five teenagers.
2. Dark-haired daughter, who is bipolar and has been violent in the past, is being ordered by the court to be moved home by Christmas. Despite all our protestations to the contrary, a bunch of people who HAVE NEVER MET MY daughter, are insisting that this be done.
3. Talking to a lawyer to see what are options are about #2.
4. A meeting to make educational plans for Dark-haired daughter, again with people WHO HAVE NEVER MET MY daughter. They are charged with deciding where she'll go to school if she returns home. Let's just say the list of schools that will take her is....short.
4. Severe hot flashes (why not?). These include night sweats, so not a good night sleep in a while.
5. A stalker. Yup, that's right: an honest-to-goodnes-won't-leave-me-alone stalker. This was a person th…
That is what one of my co-workers asked me yesterday as we watched this. She's a very bright woman, but English is not her native tongue and there are subtle forms of humor that escape her. Sadly, I assured her that these young people were very real.
My Dark-Haired Daughter has a host of mental health issues, and even she is not this bat-shit crazy (with a nod to The Digital Hairshirt, for borrowing the particular phrase):
All this is lacking is Mary standing in a bathtub....
a veterinarian saved his dog Chico, Pete Pantoja, 76, said he had a
dream inspiring him to build a shrine to thank Jesus outside his
apartment at 1041 Grandville Ave SW. Here, Pantoja watches traffic from
the shrine Sunday, August 7, 2011. He hopes the shrine will be a symbol
of Jesus' love to the community and spends much of his time sitting
there. "Maybe it will open up their eyes and make life easier for them,"
he said. The right side of the shrine predominantly has animal
figurines while the left side has religious statues. (Cory Morse | The Grand Rapids Press)
I try and try and try to get things right...just right...perfect. And I fail.
Boy, do I fail.
I think some of us are just genetically wired this way, and it serves some people well (Martha Stewart, are you reading this?) I also think that circumstances support this type of behavior. For me, I was pretty convinced, when I was in high school, that if I was perfect, my parents would be content, happy and stress-free. I was going to try my darndest to make that happen, and thus was born a raging perfectionist.
I've gotten better. Really. God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, gave me five wildly imperfect kids to balance things out. I still get really uptight sometimes, and the kids still are messy and forgetful, but we're a happy lot, most of the time.
However, Matthew 5:48 has always puzzled me: So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. This comes at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Christ's incredible gift to us as …
I've taught everything from CCD to formal high school religion class to RCIA, and I always love talking about what happens when you walk into a Catholic church. (Those of you who know me are thinking, "She loves talking about ANYthing", but it's an Irish thing, so....)
Why is walking into a Catholic church different than walking into any other building? I mean, there are a lot of really nice buildings around - art museums, lovely houses, enchanting stores and restaurants, even other houses of worship. Why is a Catholic church different?
Because when you walk into a Catholic church, you enter into eternity.
You enter into a place where time has no meaning. It simply is. It's the place where God dwells, and God is eternal, so there is no time. At least, not "time" as we humans understand it. There's no clock next to the crucifix, no timer going off to let you know that "time is up", no schedule that tells you when to come and when to…
Perhaps, you don't. However, if you're Catholic, the Basilica of St. John Lateran is a really big deal, even if you aren't familiar with it. Why?
Note what Fr. Tommy Lane has to say about it: On
the façade of the basilica there is an inscription in Latin which reads, “the mother and
mistress of all churches of Rome and the world.” One might think St. Peter’s Basilica is
the head of all the churches but in fact it is the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Every bishop has a cathedral and the
Pope’s cathedral is the Basilica of St. John Lateran not the Basilica of St. Peter.
Yes, St. John Lateran is the Pope's church, and the "mother of all churches". (That sounds a little naughty, doesn't it?)
In addition to all this, if you're a history geek, you can't beat this place: The wooden altar on
which St. Peter celebrated Mass while in Rome is inside the main altar. The heads of Sts. Peter and Paul were
once believed to be inside busts above the main altar.…
Today's saint is Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity, of whom I knew nothing. I searched out a bit about her:
The Carmelite Order celebrates the feast of Blessed Elizabeth of the
Trinity on November 8th. Elizabeth was a beautiful soul who tasted the
delights of contemplating God in the depths of her soul and invites us
to do the same.- from Praise of Glory blog
My All, my Beatitude,
Infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself! Immerse
yourself in me so that I may be immersed in you.
...MacGregor sought to include objects used for pleasure. One such
object is from America's own backyard: a North American otter pipe from
Ohio. "One of the great pleasures for a lot
of humanity has been smoking. It's not something one should say very
loudly in public, but for most of history it appears to have been true,"
he says. The otter pipe was found among a collection of little stone pipes that were interred 2,000 years ago in burial mounds in Ohio. This
particular pipe, which is about the same size as a kazoo, was carved in
the shape of an otter. MacGregor guesses that the pipe's otter design
was intended to add something extra to the user's smoking experience. "As
you smoke it, you're eye to eye with this little anim…
Yes, the Mass is changing. No, it's not really changing. What does this mean?
The language of the Mass, for us English-speaking folks, is getting a tune-up, in case you haven't heard. When we (meaning the Universal Church) made the switch from Latin to the vernacular, some of the translations were, well, hasty. Bad. Ugh. And now, it's time for a tune-up.
On the first Sunday of Advent (that's November 27, in case you don't have your liturgical calendar in front of you), the language of the Mass will be changing. For us (that is, the people), the changes are pretty minimal. The priests, on the other hand, are going to have to do a lot of work - their changes in language are significant.
Even though the language of the Mass is changing, the Mass itself is not: it is still the most significant prayer of the Church, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It's just going to sound a little different.
A number of years ago, I had piled the kids into the van on a cold winter morning, and we headed out. After a few miles, I said, "Is everyone toasty warm now? I'll turn down the heat...." and a bunch of voices chorused, "Yes." Then, after a long pause, Tallest Son said, very innocently, "Why did you ask us if we were toasted worms?" "Toasted worms" is now part of the family lexicon.
Yesterday, I discovered that a bottle of liquid had spilled all over in a drawer in my bathroom. I hollered at Youngest Son to bring me a roll of paper towels. He showed up, a moment later, with said roll in one hand and a bowl in the other. I took the paper towel and thanked him, then turned to clean up the mess. Youngest Son said, "Aren't you going to take the bowl?" and I replied, "I don't need a bowl, just the paper towel." And he said, "Then why did you ask for a bowl and paper towels?" Uh, I didn't.…
When my kids were little, we went to the library every week. Not only was it is chance for me to get out of the house, there was always the chance it *might* be an educational experience. Thankfully, all my kids loved books, loved the library, and loved to read. As a bonus, they actually behaved at the library, which was an unusual experience for us as a clan.
Now, there was the stint where Youngest Son would ONLY read what we referred to as "digger truck" books. These were the 8 or so books in the children's section that featured front-loaders, dump trucks and such. Youngest Son would get two or three of these, bring them home for the week, return them, get the next two or three, return them, get the last few, return them and start the cycle over again. ONLY those books. EVER. For - I don't know - two years. I'm not kidding. Dear Husband and I could recite those books from memory. That's part of the fun of having ADHD kids who hyper-focus on stuff…
I've been trying to nail down exactly how I feel (other than complete disgust) about the whole Kardashian-reality-wedding-divorce-idiocy. I think this article sums it up quite well:
Mr. Barnum would have had a higher regard, I suspect, for the other
humbug in the news this week, Kim Kardashian. But he would have been a
little perplexed at the general reaction to the news that she wants a
divorce: Mr. Barnum always maintained that the public doesn't mind being
swindled as long as it is entertained. Why then all the outrage?
The conceit has been that Ms.
Kardashian's television show captures something approximating the
reality of her ludicrous life. The tube pretends to be a telescope even
more powerful than the one attributed to Herschel, a lens that lets us
spy, from a distance, exotic life forms. Here the humanoid on display
was a rapaciously acquisitive creature engaged in elaborate and
expensive mating rituals. Now it turns out that, though rapacious
Ever since I was a teen and read Brideshead Revisited, I've been enchanted with the idea of having a chapel in or near my house. I guess that's why I like tiny chapels so much. This one, I believe, is in Texas.
The lives of saints are full of stories of the dark night: a spiritual emptiness so whole and deep that the one in the midst of it feels no relationship with God whatsoever. The great souls like John of the Cross and Bl. Teresa of Calcutta soldier on in the face of this desperate spiritual situation.
I'm not talking about that here; I'm just talking about plain-ole, tired burn-out. Can't seem to jump start the prayer life, can't seem to find a reason to praise, can't seem to focus on God. You're tired - and it just doesn't seem to matter.
What do you do? What helps you when you're stuck in a spiritual rut? Well, I'm no spiritual guru or even a spiritual director, but I do know a few things.
1. Rest. One of the best things we can do when we're burned out is to rest - sleep, nap, snooze or just drift. Don't expect anything profound - just rest.
2. Try something different. If you're used to praying the Rosary, read Scripture. I…
Dear souls of the dead,
you are still remembered by my family;
you are most worthy of our perpetual remembrance,
especially you, my grandparents, my parents,
also our relatives, children,
and everyone whom death
took away from our home.
I invite you to this annual feast.
We pray that this feast be agreeable to you,
just like the memory of you is to us. Amen.
(I believe this prayer is of Lithuanian origin, but whatever it's history, I found it lovely.)
We should never think for a moment that devotion to the saints gets in the way of our relationship with God. The saints have nothing at all of their own to give which they have not received from him....There is no mercy in them apart from the mercy of God, no charity, no forgiveness that is not his. Even if, like Moses, they seem to stand sometimes in the breach to protect us from God, even that is only by his appointing. - Father Simon Tugwell, OP
Borders didn’t change with the digital times, as Barnes & Noble
seems to be doing. And for every loss, I’m convinced, there is a gain.
Sure, I am saddened and worried that the Internet is killing newspapers,
civility, and church socials, but the Net has brought us unimaginable
access to information, people, and goods and services. If bookstores are
joining record stores as the latest bricks-and-mortar losers, our
digital options are only getting better. Once you start using an iPad,
Kindle, or other e-reader and experience the almost-instantaneous
download of a book you just heard someone praise, it is hard to go back
to browsing the aisles or waiting for the…